Vladimir Putin’s alleged secret lover has dramatically reappeared in public for the first time in more than two-and-a-half years.
Former Olympic champion Alina Kabaeva, 38, wore what appeared to be a wedding ring on her right hand in view of the camera.
She went on state TV to denounce Tokyo 2020 judges after Russian star Dina Averina failed to win a gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics.
Her disappearance for almost three years fuelled rumours that she had given birth to twins in a Moscow hospital, despite official denials of a relationship with Putin, 68, who abhors intrusion into his private life.
Kabaeva went on TV after issuing rare statements lambasting the judges in her old sport of rhythmic gymnastics for which she had won an Olympic Gold and was twice world champion.
She looked confident and poised as she returned to the limelight after a long absence with a Putinesque blast against a perceived slight against Russia.
In the clip on 60 Minutes political talk show, on Rossiya 1 channel, she was not quizzed about Putin, or asked whether she was Russia’s secret first lady.
Instead, she attacked the gold medal for Israel’s Linoy Ashram, who beat Averina, which Kabaeva had earlier labelled a “blatant injustice” and a conspiracy against Russia.
On TV, Kabaeva said: “Dina Averina’s performance was perfect. Unlike her rival from Israel (who) made a gross mistake.
“That mistake should have been worth a point, but they only took 0.7 points.
“Olympic (golds) are not won with such mistakes. It took them six minutes to give her points.”
The delay “means that the judges were calculating the points and did not want Averina to win over the Israeli gymnast”, Kabaeva claimed.